Thursday, 5 March 2009

Quick hit: False rape complaints get media coverage, what about real ones?

No wonder people get a false impression of the prevalence of untrue rape allegations, when every little bitty one seems to get reported, like this one from NZPA, on Stuff today:
A 25-year-old Nelson woman has been charged with making a false complaint after telling police she had been raped.

The woman contacted police at 2am on Sunday saying she had been raped by an unknown male after leaving an inner-city nightclub.

Police said an extensive investigation found no rape occurred and her complaint was false.

The woman will appear in Nelson District Court later this month.

Does someone have a vested interest in making sure these always get in the media, yet the vast majority of rape allegations which are true never get any coverage at all?


Anonymous said...

Rubbish. Rape complaints do get coverage from the media if you read the courts news regularly. Additionally, why don't we see it reported when a man gets acquitted of a rape allegation at trial?

Also, there are a large number of false rape complaints made each year and Police are getting fed up with having women making complaints of such a serious nature when doing so has very serious consequences. A detective at a major police station told me last year that they usually get about five rape complaints a week, of which at least one is false, one is immediately obviously true, and the others are either regretted or so convoluted (read: may or may not have been consensual) that they can't make head or tail of it. The sad thing is that they will often prosecute anyway.

False complaints of any sort are a blight on Police time and anybody who makes them should be prosecuted, regardless of gender or nature of the complaint. Perhaps by publicising such prosecutions there will be less of them.

A Nonny Moose said...

Nice load of apologist BS there thanks Anonymous.

Using your airy fairy stats, 1 in 5 are false. ONE IN FIVE. A large number is FOUR IN FIVE rapes are true. And saying "one is regretted or convoluted" is apologist language for "the girl is understandably confused and may regrettably be using the wrong language".

Speaking of wrong language, there was an article on Stuff earlier this week about Australian League players being investigated for an alleged rape claim. They used the word "alleged" and or "allegations" 11 times in the small article. I understand innocent until proven guilty, but when a media screams "she's only ALLEGED it!!", it's tantamount to calling her a liar.

Anonymous said...

ANM: no, that does not mean that four in five are true at all and it is wrong of you to claim so. Read again what I wrote-

"at least one is false, one is immediately obviously true, and the others are either regretted or so convoluted (read: may or may not have been consensual) that they can't make head or tail of it."

Which means that entirely possible that four of the five are false.

And regretted means "consented but now wonders why", whilst convoluted simply means that nobody can make clear enough sense of the encounter to actually determine if it was a rape or not.

So get down off your high horse and learn to read in context.

Anna said...

Great that your Police friend is able to immediately tell whether rape allegations are true, Anon. That must save a fortune on investigation costs.

I wonder why we women are so confused that we can't tell consensual sex from rape? Not to matter - there are evidently insightful Police officers who can decide this for us.

Anonymous said...

Anna, you are putting things into my comment that weren't there to be read in. Of course the Police investigate all rape complaints, but it often doesn't take much investigation for the truth of the matter to come out. Perhaps the word immediate is not correct, perhaps I should say 'within a few hours of investigation'.

However, your comment was wrong in its apparent assumptions about the Police and their practices and was obviously made out of ignorance.

The detective's comment was based on past experience as a summation, rather than an assumption of any particular case in the future.

Anna said...

Would you say the investigation is impartial if the Police officer believes that 1 or more in 5 rape complainants is lying?

Anonymous said...

Anna, police officers are never impartial, nor are they employed to be impartial. That is what the courts are supposed to be. Regardless, if statistics, whether officially published or local tracked, show that to be the case, then surely that is not a belief but a fact? If that is the case, then neither impartiality nor belief come into it and the detective observes the outcome once the investigation is complete, whether it took hours or days.

Seems to me you just can't discuss this without attributing some 'bias' somewhere.

Anna said...

What statistics support 20% or more rape claims being false?

Anonymous said...

that was just that detective's own station. I never said they were national statistics.

but then, women's groups are always keen to claim that over 90% of rapes go unpunished and there is no actual evidence of that, either...

A Nonny Moose said...

"police officers are never impartial, nor are they employed to be impartial."

Well, that scares the ever loving crap out of me.

And we wonder why we're still fighting racial and gender bias from a male dominated police force. Thanks for souring my cup of tea.

A Nonny Moose (again) said...

""And regretted means "consented but now wonders why",": "pressured but now wonders why she felt she had to give in" - there, fixed it for you.

"whilst convoluted simply means that nobody can make clear enough sense of the encounter to actually determine if it was a rape or not." : Let's see - scared woman, plus intimidating police, plus threats of violence from man, plus threats of shame from society...yeah, I'd say when you're that upset and screwed up, things that would immediatly come out of your mouth wouldn't make sense either. Ever spoken to someone in shock or pain?

Anonymous said...

Of course I know people who have been in shock or in pain. But sometimes these complaints come days after the incident. Regardless of when they are made there is often no physical evidence of harm. You seem to be taking the expected evidence of a stranger rape and assuming they are the same for all rapes. That is not the case. But nobody is saying the complainant is not making sense, or that the police are intimidating or that the man (see, you are being sexist, because this can happen to both genders, and even in same-sex relationships) is being threatening. You are making that up as you go along. Why don't you do some real research into what actually happens rather than create situations in your head and presume they must be real.

Anna said...

eAnon, there's heaps of research into 'what actually happens'. I'm not aware of any that supports your Police friend's idea that at least one in five rape claims are false. It seems to me that if this guy goes about his work with the belief that 20%+ of rape claimants are lying, then he's part of the problem - he's exactly the sort of officer a rape victim won't want to speak to.

I don't know who claims that 90% of rapes go unpunished (feel free to link to this), but I suspect you're referring to research which says that rape is under-reported. Under-reporting is quite clearly linked to definitions of rape (eg, she was drunk which means she was asking for it - therefore it can't be rape), and the attitudes of Police officers who feel free to dismiss 'convoluted' stories as evidence a woman has not been raped.

I've always been curious about why some people believe that a large number of rape complaints are false. To me, this indicates a rather strange and suspicious attitude towards women. In my day to day life, I just don't see huge numbers of women who are scheming, dishonest, or too confused to tell the difference between consent and non-consent. Most of the women I know are well-meaning and honest people. On the other hand, I've seen many dozens of sexually inappropriate or aggressive sexual behaviour from men towards women, much of it involving alcohol.

Where is this 20%+ of crazy women lurking, and why haven't I noticed them before? Andybody?

A Nonny Moose said...

"But sometimes these complaints come days after the incident." - because they are SCARED.

"Regardless of when they are made there is often no physical evidence of harm." - Oh silly me. Remind me when I have the chance to get raped to ask the guy to bash me round a bit so I have some proper evidence to take away with me.

"You seem to be taking the expected evidence of a stranger rape and assuming they are the same for all rapes." - I'm not that ill informed. As evident by my sarcasm, I know not all rapes involve outward physical evidence, as much as I understand that some rapes are perpetuated by someone known to the woman, which makes it far harder to report for fear of shaming and victim blaming.

Your passive aggressive tone makes me believe you have little empathy for any woman putting forward a rape complaint.

Anonymous said...

"Your passive aggressive tone makes me believe you have little empathy for any woman putting forward a rape complaint."

Nice try, amateur psychologist, but wrong. I just disagree with you, that's all. I understand that you won't like that and will complain to all and sundry when someone does not agree with your views. However, I still believe you are wrong. You are certainly oversimplifying what is a very serious situation.

I have every empathy for any woman who has been raped. But making a complaint of rape and actually being raped are not necessarily connected.

Julie said...

Ok, let's take a deep breath everyone, this is starting to get a wee bit too personalised. By all means argue the points though.

And most recent Anonymous (it's helpful if you use some kind of handle so we can tell you all apart) commets like "But making a complaint of rape and actually being raped are not necessarily connected," do read as pretty callous. You've provided no actual evidence that the level of false rape allegations is higher than any other level of fraud, which usually runs no higher than 5% (i.e. 1 in 20, not 1 in 5).

Anonymous said...

Just to put a bit of balance into Anonymous' claims about police and rape - Talk to anyone who has volunteered at Rape Crisis about how many police officers treat rape victims like they're liars from the get-go.

Rape victims with serious injuries have been asked if they 'just regret having consensual sex'.

Sounds like Anonymous' cop mates are similar all over the country. Goodness knows how they decide which woman is telling the 'truth' within hours of the investigation if so many women are being told they can't make 'head or tail' of their complaint. Which is what I've seen throughout my work with rape victims.

Seems when police can't be bothered investigating a claim they say it's too "convoluted".

Unfortunately half the time it's not even worth reporting rape in NZ unless there's camera footage or you've been beaten within an inch of your life.

Julie said...

Here's another media report about a false rape allegation, this time in Hamilton. Now I read the Herald most week-days and I don't recall seeing rape cases that do go to trial, or rapists being found guilty, getting this much coverage.

AWicken said...

A study that happened to be reasonably close to hand (related to my work)is linked below. It's a few years old now and based on US samples, but is still a bit more reliable than "a guy told me...":

This study of sexual victimisation of US college women found that less than 5% report the incident to law enforcement (although 2/3 confide in a friend).

And one or two people here might be interested in some of the reasons given for not reporting an incident.

A couple of more recent studies of NZ universities I've come across, though they focussed more on alcohol harm, tended to be in line with the 3-5% per year figure. As the USDoJ study above points out, this equates to roughly a 20-25% probability of sexual victimisation (they seperate it into rape, rape w/ violence, coersion, and a few other subcategories including attmempts)per individual during 5 years at uni (which is not unreasonable by any means, given honours, PG & double majors).

Anonymous said...

I think it was really unneccesarily to name the 19 year old girl who admitted making a false complaint. No purpose is served from naming her.

Archivist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Archivist said...

Every rape allegation needs to be taken seriously without prejudgment. We have made and will continue to make reporting rape as easy as it possibly can be by enacting special rules for this crime alone: rape accusers are afforded: anonymity (the presumed innocent are not); extensive counseling paid for by tax and tuition monies (the falsely accused are provided no support); heightened sensitivity when being interviewed by police (as is entirely proper – and I know there are still some police officers who haven’t gotten the message); exemption from taking polygraphs (their accuseds must take polygraphs if directed to, or else they will be jailed); the ability to have rape kits preserved for years at taxpayer expense while they mull over whether to press charges against a man or boy; and special evidentiary rules at trial to jack up convictions (e.g., Fed.R.Evid. 413 and its state counterparts that allow propensity evidence to prove the man “raped” before by introducing evidence of even prior sexual assaults for which he was acquitted – NO other criminal trial allows this; and, of course, the rape shield laws); and the trend on college campuses not to sanction underage drinking but only if it is discovered in connection with a sexual assault complaint.

All of this is good. Sadly, the presumed innocent – some of whom turn out to be factually innocent – are not afforded the protections they need before conviction, including anonymity. Contrary to the assertions of some of the commentators, their names are splashed all over the news based on nothing more than a lone allegation that they raped an acquaintance. I follow this issue closely. For many of those men, that is enough to destroy them. What is overlooked her is that even innocent men and boys are jailed over disputed claims of acquaintance rape, sometimes for months if they can’t make bail, based solely on the allegation of accuser.. And unlike ANY other criminal allegation, a false rape claim can destroy a man. Men are at times killed or kill themselves over a false rape claim; they are beaten and spat upon; they lose their wives, their girlfriends, their social support, their jobs and their businesses. Few men emerge unscathed from a false rape claim, and for most it is the worst thing they will ever experience in their lives.

This is not to suggest some rape victims aren’t destroyed, too. But we rarely think about the harm to false rape victims. The very accusation is enough to convict a man or a boy in the court of last resort -- the court of public opinion.

As for prevalence of false rape claims: One need not resort to rape hysteria nor rely on erroneous statistics in order to raise awareness about rape. Rape is a serious problem, even though false claims have become a real problem, too. While sexual assault counselors repeatedly cite the two percent figure for false claims, no legitimate study has ever found that the level of false reporting to be as low as two percent. Not the FBI, not anyone. This figure is repeated so often that it has assumed a life of its own, but it is without a shred of evidentiary support, and it was long ago debunked. Here is a law review article tracing that two percent figure to its source and showing that it is without any validity: See, e.g., E. Greer, “The Truth Behind Legal Dominance Feminism’s ‘Two Percent False Claim’ Figure, 33 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 947 (2000).

Nor is the figure for false reporting of sexual assault as low as every other crime. FBI statistics show that false reporting of sexual assault is fourfold greater than the average for all crimes. The Politics of Sexuality, Barry M. Dank, Editor in Chief, Vol. 3 at 36, n. 8.

Every serious study ever conducted on false rape claims -- every single one -- puts the figure at somewhere between eight percent and somewhere over fifty percent. It is very hard to pin down, but whatever the figure, it is real. For example, Professor Eugene Kanin’s landmark study of a mid-size Midwestern city over the course of nine years found that 41 percent of all rape claims were false. Prof.
Kanin also studied the police records of two large state universities and found that over three years, 50 percent of the 64 rapes reported to campus police were determined to be false. Kanin, for the uninitiated, was highly respected in the feminist community (aside from his false rape studies, of course).

In a 1985 study of 556 rape allegations, 27% of the accusers recanted, and an independent evaluation revealed a false accusation rate of 60%. McDowell, Charles P., Ph.D. “False Allegations.” Forensic Science Digest, (publication of the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations), Vol. 11, No. 4 (December 1985), p. 64. Minor studies support these findings, such as one from Plano, Texas last year that put the number at 47% false claims. A new five-year Indian study has been released that found 18.3 percent rape claims are false (not "unfounded").

In short, objectively verifiable data indicates that at least 9 percent and probably closer to half of all rape claims are false. (See S. Taylor, KC Johnson, "Until Proven Innocent".) Yet sexual assault counselors often disingenuously refer to false rape accusations as a "myth," and the crime of making a false rape report has become so embroiled in the politicized rhetoric of rape that it has been improperly removed from the public discourse about rape. Denigrating the experience of the wrongly accused by dismissing their victimization as unworthy of our discussion and our protection is not merely dishonest but morally grotesque.

Pierce Harlan

rose said...

When I complained about rape the police went out of their way to prevent my complaint being filed, including contacting my counsellor to get her to dissuade me from pursuing it.

They also accused me of simply complaining to get money out of ACC!!!

So I had to write to parliament & the police minister so the police would take me & my charges seriously. The perp was a PI & local security guard so knew the cops. They laughed when I said he'd handcuffed me & used guns and death threats against me. Then I found the detective who'd tried to stymy my complaints from the outselt left the police to become a PI himself!

Anonymous needs to have someone handcuff, rape & sodomise him @ gunpoint for months on end and stalk him, bug his house, car & use electronic & infrared surveillance on him & his family as well as death threats and see how he likes it when someone calls him a liar or says he was "asking for it".

Read Dr Jan Jordan's research.